Whystockit : Your secondary market solution in Bahrain
Since the economic crisis arose in the Middle East, a lot of entrepreneurs in Bahrain experienced one, if not the worst, situation in their entire business career. Most of their company’s products and merchandise are left idle in their stockroom, collecting dust and rust, instead of them converting to liquid company assets. This unfortunate occurrence gave Safa Sharif the very idea to put up an online platform that facilitates business-to-business transaction without too much of a hassle.
This month, Business in Gulf team sat and talked with E-commerce businessman, Safa Ebrahim Sharif, on why he decided to venture into tech-based enterprise and how he gives back to the community by selling pre-owned A to Z items.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
Basically, I graduated from a government school then joined the University of Bahrain where I finished a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After that, I worked in the private sector before joining the Purchase & Research Department of Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) for 3 years. It was at this time that I came upon the idea to open my own business. Together with three of my friends, we opened up a company called MASY in 2003. The company specialized in providing technical solutions for construction projects like automatic doors, access control systems, tensile and fabric structures. In 2005, I left EWA to work full-time in MASY.
Who are your partners and how did the idea for your business come about?
I’m always fond of creating a good team of expertise around me. I did that with MASY and it turned out really well. In Whystockit, I actually have two cool partners: Ali Sharif who is our financial expert and is experienced in banking and investment and Abdulaziz Alkuwari, a Bahraini expert when it comes to Information Technology (IT). During all the ups and downs we have recently had in the market, we had a few issues with the company’s liquidity. We had a lot of idle stocks which we couldn’t sell. If we were to sell the stocks, we would lose 70 percent of its value.
It was during this time that I thought up the concept of Whystockit. What if there was a website that other companies can use to put up their idle stocks so that other people could potentially benefit from? I started conducting my own research and found out that this kind of business is already flourishing in countries like Canada, Australia and the USA. I couldn’t find any proper e-commerce market place in our region, especially in the Middle East.
What is unique about Whystockit and what made you choose this type of business?
What makes the company unique is the fact that Whystockit plays a big part in contributing and giving back to the community. It brings me a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I have helped other entrepreneurs sell their idle stocks instead of them just collecting dust and rust in their storage. My business
is based on helping others and that gives me the incentive to wake up every morning feeling happy and allows me to go to bed every night feeling fulfilled.
What risks should an entrepreneur expect if they were to venture into e-commerce?
When you open a shop in Bahrain, you only compete in the local scenario. However, when you venture into the e-commerce space, you are automatically competing in the global market where the risks are already high. With that said, every entrepreneur who plans to enter the world of e-commerce should expect a lot of competition since everyone can easily get access to the internet.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I think entrepreneurship is all about mindset. As entrepreneurs, we should bear in mind that there will be challenges and trials ahead. Therefore, we should take initiative in all the things we do, voice out our opinion and think critical in terms of making the right decisions at the right time. In Whystockit, we don’t have a fixed business model so we learn new practices and methods every day and that enables us to quickly adapt to our client’s needs.
In your current position, how have you protected your firm’s reputation?
I think I protect the company’s reputation by keeping a close relationship with our clients. I always try to listen to them and as early as possible, respond to their feedback and give them the room to voice their needs and requests.
Why will the customers do repeat business with you?When a client comes to us, they are already keen on selling out their idle products. We give them a variety of solutions and ways for them to easily solve their problems and turn their idle products to liquid assets. We go out and find the buyers for our client’s products, which leads them to do repeat business with us.
Tell us the story on how you became acquainted with Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) Bahrain.
I became acquainted with Entrepreneur’s Organization – Bahrain chapter when Basim Al Saie and Luay Khulaifat made the effort to come to my office eight years ago. They told me all about EO and they kept inviting me to attend their sessions. When I joined and became a member, I learned a lot of interesting and life changing things which then helped me grow my entrepreneurial skills. I am very much grateful to the organization and to the two persons who invited me
to join back then.
In what ways did the Entrepreneur’s Organization help you in becoming a better businessman and entrepreneur?The Entrepreneur’s Organization gave me infinite gifts of wisdom and experience. They made the learning part of my entrepreneurial life interesting and I am already planning to pass this knowledge on to my children and other colleagues. The ethics and core values that EO members live by have made me become a much better version of myself.
I literally have friends from all around the world because of EO’s global network. I still keep in contact with them and continue to learn a lot from them until this day.
Is there someone, an entrepreneur perhaps, whom you admire or think highly of?My role model is Warren Rustand. In the past, he was appointed as secretary of four US presidents. He’s a very successful business man and family man. I got the chance to learn from him in various leadership events from all around the word.
Can you give us 3-5 tips or advice to those who are planning to venture out in the e-commerce market?
- Invest time in research. Any idea could very well have great potential. It may already exist, but there are numerous ways that you could possibly do it better.
- Do a proper business plan; calculate the pros and cons and always know your risks.
- Ensure you have a solution for any difficulty that could possibly arise. Always tackle problems head on and make sure you have an innovative approach to all adversities. Success will come as a thank you from society for being able to solve any issue.
- Keep a good attitude all the time; with yourself, with your customers and employees. You will succeed if you make both lives better.
- You will never know it all, so always seek knowledge. Keep that in your DNA.
Assets tend to set idle constraining their value, we aim to pass them in as many forms as possible, extending their lives and easing the pain of the stock holders
To become the most dynamic one stop shop for idle assets, material and stocks.
Social responsibility make us leave our beds in the morning, conservation and value preservation make us sleep well at night, in between, we adore good attitude.
Articles by businessingulf.co